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All-Star Baseball Catcher Lopez Signs With Orioles - 2003-12-22

Free agent Major League Baseball All-Star catcher Javy Lopez is switching teams. He is leaving the Atlanta Braves after agreeing to a three-year, $22.5 million deal with the Baltimore Orioles.

The contract is contingent on Lopez passing a team physical. The 33-year-old catcher hit .328 last season for Atlanta, with 43 home runs and 109 RBIs, both career highs. It was the Puerto Rican's best year since 1998, when he hit .284 with 34 homers and 106 runs batted in.

Lopez is the second big hitter in a week the Orioles have acquired as the team tries to rebuild. Last week the Orioles signed Miguel Tejada away from the Oakland Athletics to a six-year, $72 million contract. Tejada was the 2002 American League Most Valuable Player.

The Orioles hope their rebuilding efforts will break their six-year streak of finishing fourth in the American League East Division behind the New York Yankees, Boston and Toronto.